Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Developing Profiling Theories

What if I were to have an opportunity to analyze the case of the missing woman, Christy Cornwell of Blairsville, Georgia? What would I look at as a profiler?

1. I would start with the phone call from the boyfriend. I would read his interview about what she said on that phone and how she said it. I would want to know if her voice always sounded like it was close to the phone or if it were distant (like she dropped the phone). I would want to know what else he heard. Other people talking? Sound of the vehicle? I would want to know why he didn't call 911 before he called Christy's mother.

2. I would want the boyfriend's alibi. Yes, the phone call supposedly came out of Atlanta. I would still want to prove he was there and HE made the phone call or received the phone call from Christy.

3. I would go to the site where she was allegedly abducted. Do I see signs of a struggle? (or do the photos show evidence of this?). Are there absolute signs of this like more than one set of footprints, car tire marks, etc? Or could Kristy have staged the crime and tossed some of her items there to make it look like an abduction.

4. I would want to check the site where the phone was found to see how long it would take to get there and why the phone would end up there. Are there signs of it being tossed? What kind of phone is it? Why did it go dead when the boyfriend said he was talking to Christy? If he heard her scream, "Don't take me", it should still have been in her hand. Why did it end up in the vehicle? Why wasn't it dropped where she was abducted? Why wouldn't the abductors have ripped it from her hand? Do we see other calls on the phone after the boyfriend's call? Is it a flip phone or a slide phone? What can we learn from it?

3. I would want to check the history of Christy, including her own victimology and personality profile, and that of her exes and her boyfriends. I would want to know all her friends and acquaintances and all the people she works with and has worked with (including those criminals she dealt with). I want to know Christy's habits especially her habit of walking at night and the routes she would have been seen on. If this wasn't her regular route, why not?

4. I would want to find any video of the roads she might have gone down after the fact. I would want to know any bus stations and motels near the area. I would want to verify any possible way Christy could have slipped away if it was a staged crime. I also want to know all possible routes for abductors and places they could hole up.

5. I would want to canvass the neighborhood for information and be sure to put out clear information to bring in tips on vehicles, possible suspects, and any strange behaviors observed.

6. The timeline of the crime is VERY important. When was Christy last seen and by whom? We must be sure no assumptions are being made. For example, let's say no one actually had seen her since 4 PM. Christy's boyfriend picks her up, they get in a fight, he kills her. He goes and hides her body, dumps a ripped shirt and one shoe on the road and then goes to his buddy. He gives his buddy the phone and tells him to wait for his call. He drives to Atlanta and then calls his buddy. They talk a few minutes and then he tells him to get in the car and drive two miles down from the dumped clothes and toss the phone. His buddy drives down the road and tells Christy's boyfriend, "Dumping the phone now!" Boyfriend then immediately calls Christy's mom to tell her that Christy has just been "taken." He has the perfect alibi.

Now, I am not saying the above scenario happened, but you can see how each piece of information must be checked and analyzed and connected with each other piece of information. This is how one does a crime reconstruction which leads to a profile. Then, we can eliminate any theory that cannot be true and find which theory is supported by the evidence. For example"

Christy's boyfriend has an alibi for the entire day in Atlanta. He was in an all-day meeting with ten people. BOYFRIEND IS NOT INVOLVED.

Christy's body is found and she has been strangled. CHRISTY DID NOT STAGE THE INCIDENT.

A video is found at a store with Christy being held hostage by some men with guns demanding money from convenience stores. SERIAL KILLERS ARE NOT INVOLVED.

A profile always depends on evidence. If new evidence comes in, the profile can change. Right now, I have so little information on this crime, I haven't a clue to what happened. If I were working with the police, I am sure this would be different. We will have to wait and see what evidence is given to the public next.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown